I woke from uneasy sleep, as feathers tickled
my suddenly sneezy nose. That has not stopped,
and I need to bless myself twelve times a day.
I carry tissues tucked between the feathers.
If you are hit by sodden snow, it is probably
a cloud-like tissue, slipping from inexpert wings.
I would call the wings adequate, though,
as I do not miss the morning commute.
Please do not mistake me for an angel.
I often swear, up here amongst the fluff,
and my fingers pluck no cunning harp.
Mittens cradle my blue-cold hands,
and a beanie holds my head like an egg.
Why this happened to me, I can't really say.
Who has not dreamt of flight? Yet so few
wake to feather doonas sprouting
from shoulders like quotation marks.
'Anything becomes usual, given you have 
enough time to get used to it,' as I said to the press.
I ride updrafts, and predict the patterns of sneeze.
It is quietly wonderful, to share a life with pigeons,
and to perch, a woolly gargoyle, for a quick cup of tea.

PS Cottier

A fun poem, more than the illustration by Hans Tegner, which is excellent but a bit grim. And everyone should recognise the origin of that first phrase!

Tuesday poem: Where they go

December 8, 2021

Where they go

Full calls have no place among the clipped hedges,
the solid garages, or mere carports of suburbia.
There is indeed a farm where plucky roosters go,
invisible to the eyes of those who dispatched them
with handy axe, or squeamish vet.  In the sky 
the boy-chooks crow, show their bright red crowns, 
scratch the earth.  Executed for the lack of eggs,
they hatch sweet cockadoodle-doos to the moon.
The stars catch gleams of manic eye, 
the triumphant shake of crimson wattle.

PS Cottier

That’s a simple poem that was recently short-listed for a competition. (There are monthly competitions run by the publication Positive Words, for tiny stories and short poems.) I find it amazing how many people keep chooks but don’t think too much about the lack of male birds, all dispatched because they don’t meet our supposed needs. I’ll shut up now before I go the full vegan, and get back to perusing the 300 or so poems submitted for The Canberra Times.

Tuesday poem: Limits

October 26, 2021

Limits


‘Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live.’ 
Pope Francis


Four months ago the trees looked like trees
drawn in charcoal by a depressed artist —
simple strokes of black connecting earth
to noon-time grey, throat-choking, skies.
Now, watch the festoons of green
circling the trunks, as if strewn
by the world’s worst exterior decorator.
Such vivid newness, almost artificial
in its neon promise.  And yet,

such trees have known blazes many years,
lightning-spat, or most carefully set,
by those who shaped the land, 
farmed with fire, forty thousand years or more.
We comfort ourselves, forget that this mega-blaze,
man-made, was the very opposite of skill.
We have changed the seasons, charged
the air, dried the possibilities of rain
into a parched riverbed of loss.

Yes, the trees still push out leaves.
Frail canopy above dead mounds of wombat,
of lyre-bird-less, song-lost, ground.
The reassurance of regeneration
this time asks us how many more
times green can possibly appear.
If next year, and the next, another
blaze exceeds all history,
will even gumtrees stay gloomed —

dead sticks we poked into a lessened land?

PS Cottier


Everyone is pleased to see the bush regenerating after a fire, but how many times can it do so after the mega fires that climate change brings?

The chicken in autumn

No spring chicken, she fluffs up her hair.
Neck is turkeying, becoming its own scarf
of bumpy, gobbling skin.  She pushes at the strange,
frill neck, loose Elizabethan collar, gravity's triumph,
and remembers, stroking, the departed flesh of spring.

Pink buds looked upwards, as if watching clouds,
Her body watered itself, moistly rippled,
Holding itself tightly in an embrace
assumed to be everlasting, but like any flower
wind caressed too hard, and the petals fell. 

Autumn, they say, is fruitful, mellow, wiser,
tasting winter on the air, beyond mere promise
of that which can not last, of fairies or of flowers.
A graceful pause, equilibrium.  But falls of leaves
speak of falls of snow, of skin, of flesh, of life.

But still leaves may be kicked upwards, fluttering,
rudely resurrected out of  dignified piles, 
decorum shed like a lizard's skin, unwanted.
Half of life has been spent, but the legs still swing,
lovingly, the lungs embrace air.  The tough bird sings.

PS Cottier

That’s a very old poem, published in my first book, The Glass Violin, in 2008. It’s becoming more relevant every year! You know you’re getting a bit older when you forget the dates that you got various degrees, which is the over-educated version of where did I put my keys? Rereading the poem now, there are more flower images than I’d probably use now, but I quite like it.

Tuesday poem: If I could

September 20, 2021

If I could

I would infiltrate this page
with seeds, which would sprout
as you read down the few lines,
and leave you with a bush
which you would plant out
and wait for the blessings of birds.

PS Cottier